Paper short abstract:
Approaches emphasizing that unexpected affiliations formed through practical action can be catalysts of social change have been used to theorize recent political activism in Istanbul. I will discuss how the design of collective futures and prototyping creates new forms of sociality and solidarity.
Paper long abstract:
The recent political activism in Istanbul has been associated with efforts to discover novel forms of participation and agency. The events and their interpretations have drawn attention to unexpected encounters, affiliations and forms of solidarity that contribute positively to people's social needs. The Gezi Park protests have become famous for bringing together groups of people not expected to meet otherwise, as well as for the innovative ways that participants made their claims. In these processes, people are often seen as literally designing collective futures and prototyping new forms of sociality together. In my paper, I wish to relate this design-influenced thinking with historically evolved notions of subjectivity and belonging. How are common design projects among heterogeneous groups different from other efforts to rework forms of social organization? Arguably, many of Istanbul's long-standing struggles have been over the control of communal relations and forms of solidarity in spaces associated with different social orders and moral frameworks. I am interested in how various senses of belonging are combined with design-driven practices that emphasize shared practical goals and co-creation, and in tracing how they operate in redrawing the urban spatial boundaries, rendering ethnic, religious, citizenship and identity-based belonging in new, more ambiguous ways.
Anthropologies of collective design experiments